Morning Ethics Warm-Up, December 19, 2018: Facebook’s Lies, Hillary’s Letter, Harvard’s Defenders, And Kavanaugh’s Victory

Good Morning!

1. Open Forum today! As soon as this post is up, I’ll open a forum for readers here to raise their own suggestions for ethics topics and to offer their commentary without me getting in the way. The last one was a spectacular success, attracting over a hundred comments, generating many fascinating threads, and producing three Comments of the Day so far. Just keep the topics on ethics, don’t get distracted by tangents and bickering, and keep it civil.

The immediate motivation for today’s forum is that I have to prepare for and deliver an annual end of year ethics CLE seminar at the D.C. bar. If you’re in the vicinity and need the credits, or just want a lively ethics workout, come on by and say hello. Here are the details:

Date: December 19, 2018

Event start time :1:30 PMEvent end time:4:45 PM

Venue:D.C. Bar: 901 4th ST NW, Washington, DC 20001-2776

Credit: 3.0 Ethics Credit Hours, including 3 hours of professionalism for those states with such requirement.

Description: Widespread discord in our current culture places unusual stress on professional ethics, and unfortunately, the legal profession is not immune. The past year saw many legal professionals, including famous names in the law, make questionable decisions and breach legal ethics standards, providing both cautionary tales and fodder for analysis. This challenging and interactive class will explore important developments and looming perils that every lawyer should be ready to face.

Topics include:

• Direct adversity vs. “general adversity,” and whether it matters
• Sexual harassment as a legal ethics problem, and the profession’s vulnerability to “The King’s Pass”
• Defying a client for the client’s own good
• Fees, referrals and gaming the rules for fun and profit
• Professional responsibility vs. legal ethics
• The increasing threat to law firm independence and integrity
• The technology ethics earthquake

..and more!

Faculty: Jack Marshall, Pro Ethics Ltd.
Fee: $89 D.C. Bar Communities Members; $99 D.C. Bar Members; $109 Government Attorneys; $129 Others

2. Meanwhile, here are Facebook’s “standards”… As Ethics Alarms posts continue to be blocked on Facebook in various ways, including by “community standards” that for some reason reject the ethics of “Miracle on 34th Street,” the social media behemoth’s own standards are coming into focus: From CNBC:

Facebook shared user data with tech partners, NYT reports. Facebook has admitted it allowed other big tech companies to read users’ private messages, but denies it did so without consent. The response came in a blog post by the firm Wednesday after a New York Times investigation found that Facebook gave companies including Netflix, Spotify and the Royal Bank of Canada the ability to read, write and delete users’ private messages. The report on Tuesday also said it permitted Microsoft’s Bing search engine to view the names of nearly all of a Facebook user’s friends without consent. Facebook said it enabled partner companies like Spotify to access users’ private messages after a user had signed into Facebook through the partner company’s app. Spokespeople for Spotify and Netflix told the Times they were unaware of the broad powers Facebook had granted them, while an Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) spokesperson disputed the bank had such access.

The Times report, citing hundreds of internal documents and interviews with more than 50 former employees, also said Facebook allowed Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, while Yahoo was able to view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer. The report suggests Facebook’s sharing of personal data extended well beyond what the social media giant had previously disclosed.

3. Hillary’s letter (yecchh!). Awww. Desperate for new ways to get her name in the news, Hillary  sent a consolation message to  8-year-old Martha Kennedy Morales, a third grader at a small private school in College Park, Md., who lost an election for class president to a boy—The Horror!—and by one vote. “It’s not easy when you stand up and put yourself in contention for a role that’s only been sought by boys,” Hillary wrote. By all means, let’s indoctrinate a little girl into a victim stance, so she can approach all future interactions and competitions with men from the perspective of suspicion and resentment.  Talk about projection: class presidencies have been sought, and won, by girls for decades: there are 50’s sitcoms showing girls running and winning the office. My sixth grade class’s third president was a girl (I was the first), and so was the fifth—and boys outnumber girls in that class 4 to 1.

I’d love to know who reported the letter to the news media. It would be a more genuine gesture if the Hillary camp didn’t, but what are the odds of that?

4.  Watch the racial bias fans squirm..The discrimination lawsuit against Harvard, which has already shown deliberate and insidious discrimination against Asian Americans, also is nicely exposing progressive advocates for racial preferences as the desperate and undemocratic hypocrites they are. Here is a thorough critique of the genre of critics of affirmative action in college admissions, which, is, by necessity, a zero-sum game. If a student is admitted because of race, another student is rejected because of race. (Pointer: Instapundit)

5.  Good. First Democrats launched a despicable campaign of personal destruction at Brett Kavanaugh, then they filed over 80 ethics complaints against him, alleging that he had voiced “inappropriate partisan statements” in his confirmation hearings, and that he had lied in his characterization of comments in his high school yearbook, which somehow was presented as relevant evidence regarding his qualifications for the Supreme Court.  Judge Timothy Tymkovich, writing for the Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit, wrote that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh could not be charged under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act because he is now a Supreme Court justice.

The allegations contained in the complaints are serious but the Judicial Council is obligated to adhere to the Act .Lacking statutory authority to do anything more, the complaints must be dismissed because an intervening event—Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court—has made the complaints no longer appropriate for consideration under the Act.

The Judicial Conduct and Disability Act has never been applied to a Supreme Court justice.


13 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, December 19, 2018: Facebook’s Lies, Hillary’s Letter, Harvard’s Defenders, And Kavanaugh’s Victory

  1. Remember the Glenn Greenwald commentary reviling Texas’ school districts for making employees sign a pledge not to boycott or advocate against Israel? It generated huge news buzz and a social media meltdown. You can google it, I don’t want extra links to hold up my comment.

    Well, David Bernstein of Reason demonstrates why he was wrong, in depth, and in my view, pretty much beyond rational dispute:

    Bernstein is still sympathetic to the idea that contractors should be able to boycott Israel if they choose. What lies unaddressed, at least to my layman’s eye, is how Citizens United might be used to attack the anti-BDS legislation against contractors. If corporations are analogous to persons for the purposes of campaign finance, might other forms of free speech, such as BDS, be covered, bringing the First Amendment into play after all?

    I have no real idea about that, but Bernstein’s argument about the Texas matter seems much more sound than Greenwald’s mainly because Bernstein read the law, and Greenwald either a) didn’t or b) made a mistaken reading and/or interpretation.

    Will we ever see the end of the “Outrage” industry?

  2. This summer, I drove across country on vacation. I put the destination into Google Maps. I then opened Spotify. Less than 15 minutes later, Spotify gave me an ad for a location at my destination (on Google Maps).

    • Of course it did. They all share everything they know about you. They are now using predictive analytics (which also incorporates those you interact with, like friends, family and business associates’ data) to determine where you are going next. If you are offline, they guess where you are so they can use you to help find others.

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